Rahul Kapoor, Founder-Director, Turnip Innovations

Dr. Rahul Kapoor is the Founder-Director of Turnip Innovations, an online IPR education and awareness firm. He obtained his PhD in Innovation from LUT University in Finland and has over 12 years’ experience in the field of patents researching, teaching and consulting multinational companies. He has over 15 articles published in reputed international journals.

 

The academic ecosystem in India is set to enter an era of patents.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has asked all universities in India to set up Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Centres. National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) rankings now factor in patents filed, granted and commercialised. Various other accreditation schemes like “NAAC” require institutes to regularly hold IPR workshops. The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has further urged institutes to introduce IPR in their curriculum.

The stage is set from the policy perspective. Going forward, one clear goal of academic institutes will be to boost patent filings.

But how to do that? There is general lack of awareness and trained IPR personnel within institutes.

This post will delineate some very tangible ways to achieve more patent filings.

Here’s the fundamental secret:

Implement and enforce a comprehensive Invention Disclosure Policy.

I will give you details on how invention disclosure forms can be instrumental in maturing ideas. At the end, I have also given an Invention Disclosure Form Template that can be used by your institute.

What is an invention disclosure form?

An Invention Disclosure Form is a confidential document hosted by the institute and written by the inventor(s). It describes the invention and the practical aspects necessary for protecting inventions; such as date of invention, details of inventors, funding, sponsorships and obligations.

Invention Disclosure Forms (IDFs) are needed to document inventions in a format that helps in filing a patent application. There are various bases that need to be covered before filing a patent. Read along to learn more!

How do invention disclosure forms help?

Firstly, an IDF acts as a guiding light that forces inventors to think. The act of writing organises your thoughts. New ideas appear. You might have observed this phenomenon when you start writing. Be it research papers, project reports, dissertation, or anything! One idea or thought leads to another and the ball starts rolling.

Secondly, it prevents many undesirable outcomes associated with patents being a legal right. For example, right from the start you are forced to note down list of inventors, original date of invention, proofs, obligation to sponsors, etc. Patents are a “Property Right” and disputes are known to occur when stakes are high.

Thirdly and finally, IDFs help documenting important information that will help fulfil the patentability criteria.

How long does it take to fill an invention disclosure form?

Answer: NOT Overnight!

Many people think that an invention disclosure form is merely a formality. That one only needs to copy-paste the title, abstract and summary of the invention. Nothing can be further from truth. In fact, innovation happens when an inventor carefully fills the IDF.

Depending on how far ahead the inventor is in their innovation journey, an invention disclosure form can take from a few days to a few months to fill!

Whatever time it takes, it’ll be worth the effort!

Key components of an invention disclosure form

  1. When was the invention invented? Who are the inventors? Most patent disputes are an outcome of unresolved answers to these questions. An IDF ensures that there is transparency right from the start. If not, worth looking into these questions now! You will need contact details and signature of every inventor when the document is ready.
  2. What technical problem does your invention solve? A basic tenet of the patent system is that inventions have to be useful. Frivolous inventions cannot be patented. Before even describing the invention, consider the commercial applications of the technology; and how your invention might be applied to a product, process or service.
  3. What were the deficiencies of previous solutions? How does your invention overcome or improve them? A brief patent search might be needed to answer these questions. This is where you will be able to convince the patent office examiners that your patent should be granted!
  4. How does your invention work? Giving insufficient information about your invention is grounds for refusal of a patent application. Describe the invention in detail and explain every component; how it connects to other components and how the system works as a whole. Insert diagrams where possible to improve the understanding of the invention.
  5. Are there any previous publications associated to your work? Have you presented it in front of an audience? Have you built a prototype, proof-of-concept or developed software? In short, what is the stage your invention is in.
  6. Note down the sources of funding or support. Add any collaborators you have. Are there any potential licensees? Note if there are any contractual obligations to the sponsors. In the event of commercialisation, what will be the revenue share model between inventors, institute and other stakeholders, if any? All these might look like extra work right at the start but its important to get these aspects out of the way!

Once the IDF starts looking ready, the process of patent filing will become much smoother. You should engage with a Patent Agent who will advise further, help with drafting patent claims and getting the overall material ready for filing at the Indian Patent Office!

Conclusion

  • Prepare an in-house template of an invention disclosure form using the above guidelines or a template.
  • Invention disclosure forms act as a bridge between innovation and patents. Make sure to implement it within your institute to help mature more inventions to patents.
  • Hard work is needed!
  • But this hard work will make the process of interacting with patent agents, examiners and other commercial stakeholders smoother.

I hope this post helped understand what IDFs stand for.

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